WKT given in braille for the second time

Amy Davidson and Eva Liu

Along with the many people who will be taking the RPR Written Knowledge Test in April is a student who is blind and will be reading the test in braille.

It is the second time a person has taken the test in braille. The first was Kayde Rieken in April 2017.

To make the braille test possible took the efforts of NCRA’s Director of Certification and Testing Amy Davidson and Certification and Testing Program Manager Eva Liu. They found a company to translate the test into braille. The current test taker will be answering the same questions as the other April 2019 test takers.

Davidson and Liu make accommodations for a variety of disabilities and special situations.

“NCRA really strives to provide the best opportunities for all of our candidates,” Davidson said. “Anyone who has a medically documented type of requirement for accommodation needs to reach out to us, and we will work with them. Please reach out to NCRA early so we have time to make it work.”

NCRA covers the cost of creating the braille test and the additional accommodations that are needed  with the testing company, Pearson VUE. Davidson and Liu work with each candidate who needs special accommodations to give them an individualized plan with Pearson.

The current braille test taker will be in a room with a personal proctor who will be timing her and also recording her answers. For example, the test taker will say “question 1, answer B,” and the proctor will repeat it back to her and then mark the answer on the test.

“We go above and beyond to make sure our testing candidates have a positive experience,” Liu said.  “We are walking alongside them every step of the way through the testing process.”

Besides accommodations for disabilities, NCRA staff has also worked with test takers on issues like test location. They worked with Pearson VUE to authorize additional locations in Jamaica and the Bahamas so that candidates can test locally.

“We do everything in our power to help candidates succeed in their testing,” Liu said.

Accommodations also happen for the online skills testing within the online testing platform.

In striving for success for all candidates, NCRA’s online skills test registration includes the opportunity for a proctored practice exam before the real test. It’s a great way for test takers to check equipment, Internet connectivity, test procedures, etc., to help candidates successfully take and pass their skills tests.

Visit our Certification Test Center to learn more about NCRA testing.

NCRA letter to the Michigan House of Representatives

The following letter was sent from NCRA President Sue Terry in support of House Bill 4329, which would increase the transcript page rate for Michigan court reporters.

March 14, 2019
The Honorable Graham Filler Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary
Michigan House of Representatives
P.O. Box 30014
Lansing, MI 48909-7514

Dear Representative Filler, Ranking Member LaGrand, and members of the Judiciary Committee,
As President of the National Court Reporters Association, which represents over 13,000 members, including 261 in the state of Michigan, I am writing today to express my support for House Bill 4329, which would increase the transcript page rate for Michigan court reporters. This bill would reaffirm the Michigan Legislature’s commitment to court reporters, who act as “guardians of the record” and have provided their invaluable services to the state’s court system without fair compensation for decades.
The page rate in Michigan has gone unchanged for over 30 years; and yet, inflation, general goods, and supply costs have continued to increase. For example, according to statistics from the federal government, the cost of eggs 30 years ago has gone from 71 cents to $1.63, bread from 60 cents to $1.28, and gas from 96 cents to over $2.50 and to up to $4.00 a gallon. Despite this inflation, the page rate in Michigan has remained unchanged. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the inflation rate has increased 103.58% from 1989-2018 and yet the page rate for court reporters has remained static.
Court reporters take extraordinary measures to satisfy their statutory obligation to provide accurate and complete transcripts of court records in a timely manner. Court reporters are passionate, hardworking court officials, who routinely work on producing transcripts after normal business hours with no consideration beyond the currently set statutory page rate as compensation. They are often required to produce transcripts within statutory time limits or face penalties such as fines or loss of certification. Many court reporters are required to purchase their own materials, at great personal expense, to create transcripts that are required by law. Court reporters do this because they take their obligation to the justice system and their roles as “guardians of the record” quite seriously, and they should be compensated fairly for that role.
An increase in the transcript page rate would enable those reporters to have the financial capability to satisfy their legal obligations in a more expeditious manner, ensuring that the court system in Michigan operates smoothly and efficiently. We believe that a vote for this bill is a vote ensuring that the integrity of the court record may be upheld.
NCRA stands in support of the Michigan Association of Professional Court Reporters and asks you to vote to pass this bill. If I or the NCRA staff can be of assistance, please contact Government Relations Director Matthew Barusch at mbarusch@ncra.org. Thank you.


Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC
2018/2019 NCRA President

Nominate someone special to be CASE Educator of the Year or a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters

Now is the time to recognize someone special! Every year, NCRA offers members several opportunities to bring attention to the people who are contributing to the profession in important ways. The Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) is seeking nominees for Educator of the Year, and the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR) wishes to recognize court reporters and captioners who have made significant contributions to the professions. CASE and CAPR are committees supported by NCRA.  

CASE Educator of the YearThis special award is for a court reporting instructor. Was there someone special who inspired you, who got you through the ups, downs, and plateaus of your court reporting classes? If your teacher was an incredible influence in your getting started, now is the time to say thank you by nominating that special someone for the CASE Educator of the Year Award. Nominations close April 1.

Fellow of the Academy of Professional ReportersIf you know a dedicated court reporter or captioner who has contributed to the profession in a big way over the years, nominate that person as a Fellow. Candidates must be active practitioners in the field and have at least 10 years of experience. Criteria for nomination include the publication of important papers, legislative or creative contributions to the field, and service on committees or boards. Nominations close April 1.

Is your information for the 2019-2020 NCRA Sourcebook correct?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, it’s time to check your listing on NCRASourcebook.com.

If you have moved, started a new job, or just haven’t looked at the new NCRASourcebook.com site recently, it’s time to review your print and online NCRA Sourcebook profile.

NCRA provides both the print and online NCRA Sourcebook to help lawyers, paralegals, court reporting and captioning firms, members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and other court reporters find NCRA members. Don’t be left out of these important resources. Update your profile today!

The deadline to update your information for inclusion in the print NCRA Sourcebook is April 15. You can update your online NCRA Sourcebook listing anytime you have a change in circumstance.

Instructions for updating your information

  • Log on to NCRA.org using your NCRA ID# and your password. Forgot your password? Scroll down to the section “Need help signing in?” and follow the instructions.
  • Hover over your name and click on “My Profile” below your name.
  • Update your contact details.
  • Update any services you offer by clicking on “Manage My Services” at the bottom of the screen.
  • Click “Save” to update your contact details and services.
  • Click on “My NCRA,” then on “My Sourcebook Listings.” Click on the green “Edit” box to the left of your listing.
  • Update the details you want to appear in your NCRA Sourcebook listing and click on “Save.”

Please check your information under both “My Main Profile” and “My Sourcebook Listings.” The “My Sourcebook Listings” information is used for both the online and print NCRA Sourcebook.

If you wish to purchase additional member listings in the Member Directory, premium or box listings in the Business Directory, or display advertising for the print 2019–2020 NCRA Sourcebook, please contact mpetto@ncra.org  by May 1.

A few last notes about updating your Sourcebook listings.

Your credentials can only be updated by NCRA staff, and state credentials are not listed in the NCRA Sourcebook. For accuracy and security purposes, we cannot accept verbal changes over the phone. If you have questions about your information, please email membership@ncra.org.

Natalie Dippenaar is  NCRA’s Director, Membership & IT. She can be reached at ndippenaar@ncra.org.

Grab your bucket!

Dave Wenhold

By Dave Wenhold

During my 20 years of being an advocate for the court reporting and captioning professions, I am consistently impressed with those members who step up and serve on a committee or the Board. I would personally like to thank every one of you who has served (at NCRA or on the state level) and tried to make a difference for their fellow reporters. It’s not an easy task and not for the faint of heart for sure. 

What most people don’t know about Board or committee service is the hundreds or thousands of hours these members give back to the profession, with zero compensation. Yep, they get nada, zip, nil, nothing, zilch! These dedicated souls also tend to give us their vacation or personal time to participate in conference calls or meetings at night and over weekends to try and make your profession better. Who in their right mind would sign up for that? Really great and dedicated people, that’s who!

Additionally, to help these dedicated Board members with their role, NCRA is fortunate to have a dedicated and committed staff. Together with the Board, they implement the policies and directives of the Board. The enormous amount of work that is accomplished by staff is truly impressive, and in my role as Interim Executive Director, I get to see that volume up close and personal. Think about what it takes to support just the 13,000 individual members and their needs (certification, CEUs, payments, invoices, communications, training, conventions, the JCR, student programs, maintaining membership records, responding to negative PR about the profession, as well as supporting the Board, lobbying decision-makers about the profession and assisting state associations, and so much more). With a very small staff, they get a lot accomplished. As they say in politics, this is how the sausage is made.

So why do I tell you all of this? Because this is your profession, and you need to play an active role in it. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have heard “Well, NCRA (or insert a state association) should take care of that or someone needs to do something about it.” This is the tough love portion of this article: You are that someone! The profession is only as strong as its members and the perceptions of those in the field that the public interacts with. Believe it or not, you– and every court reporter and captioner — are NCRA (and your state association) and are the image of profession. That is the truth. Every time you show up to a deposition, in court, providing CART or captioning, you are the ambassador of your profession and by default your associations. 

Often an interaction with a reporter ingrains an image into a person’s mind of what they think a court reporter does. We both know that most people have no idea what you do or how difficult it is. Then think about it: If you took just one minute every day to educate a lawyer, judge, witness, child, or a potential reporting student about what you do and the importance of the record what a difference you could make as that ambassador. You have 1,440 minutes in every day, can’t you spare one? You might say “that’s not my job”; but, in the end, if you don’t help influence people that can help you, it could cost you a job. It’s really that simple. If you don’t try to improve your situation, who will?

I am also going to let you in on a little secret. NCRA and your state associations are really there to help you. There is no ivory tower, no conspiracy theories, no star chamber where the Board members plot the downfall of the association. These are your colleagues and working reporters doing their very best to make the best decisions for the industry as a whole. They face the same day-to-day challenges you do with their paying jobs, and in their not-so-free time, they attempt to make your lives better by helping lead the Association and industry into the future.

As the Board and NCRA staff work to move NCRA forward into version 2.0 of the Association, I ask that you raise your hand and offer to help in some small way. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone has a great idea or can offer some constructive advice or, better yet, be part of the solution and serve on a committee or the Board. 

I came back to NCRA to serve in this role for one reason: I love the profession. I definitely didn’t need to for my own business, but I believe in the people and the role you play in the system. But we all can’t do it by ourselves. We need you.

In closing, I am going to use a line from yet another person that came back to help NCRA steer the ship. NCRA Board member Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, reminded me that when a storm hits, and the ship is leaking a little bit, you make a choice to bail out or help save the ship and bail water. We have many people grabbing a bucket to help us get to 2.0. I’ve got my bucket. Can I hand you one to help out? I hope so.

Dave Wenhold, CAE, is NCRA’s Interim Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer. He can be reached at dwenhold@ncra.org.

NCRA announces 2019-2020 slate of nominees

NCRA announced the slate of nominees selected by its Nominating Committee to serve in 2019-2020. The upcoming year includes nominations for president-elect, vice president, secretary-treasurer, two director seats for a three-year term, two director seats for a two-year term, and one director seat for a one-year term. The current president-elect, Max Curry, RPR, CRI, Franklin, Tenn., automatically ascends to the presidency.

Additional nominations are possible if received within 60 days after publication of the Nominating Committee slate. Petitions should include the member’s name, credentials, and the position they are considering. For the director positions, please indicate the term length; that is, three-year, two-year, or one-year. The date by which additional nominations must be received is May 12. Please refer to Article VIII, Section 3, of the Constitution and Bylaws for more information.

The slate of officers includes:

  • President-Elect: Christine D. Phipps, RPR, North Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Vice President: Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, Woodland, Utah
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Kristin Anderson, RPR, San Antonio, Texas

Nominated to serve Director terms are:

Two nominees for a three-year term:

  • Lance A. Boardman, RDR, CRR, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Heidi Thomas, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Acworth, Ga.

Two nominees for a two-year term:

  • Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, Brentwood, Tenn.
  • Yolanda Walton, FAPR, RPR, Norwalk, Ohio

 One nominee for a one-year term:

  • Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, Fort Collins, Colo.

Due to changes to NCRA’s Constitution & Bylaws put into effect in 2018, members will now be able to vote for a time period of 24 hours. In addition, voting will occur at least 30 days before the Annual Business Meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 15, in Denver, Colo. More information on how and when to vote will be provided in the coming weeks.

Call for 2019 DSA nominations: Recognize that special professional

Has a peer or colleague gone above and beyond to support NCRA and the court reporting and captioning professions? Then consider nominating that person for NCRA’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award (DSA). The deadline to nominate someone for NCRA’s 58th DSA is March 15.

The DSA is the highest honor NCRA can bestow on a member. It recognizes the distinguished work and service by an individual member for the benefit of the court reporting profession, including service to NCRA as a member, a committee member, a director, or an officer of the association. Other displays of distinguished work include contributing to the JCR or service at a state court reporters association or in the field of public relations or public affairs. Award winners are recognized at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

“While attending the convention I had no idea I would be receiving this great honor. I do recall that about four years ago my dear friend Louis Rennillo sent my name in to be nominated. But not having heard about it again, I didn’t think about it,” said 2018 DSA recipient Heywood (Woody) Waga, FAPR, RMR, CRR (Ret.), a retired court reporter from Montclair, N.J. “I just thought the DSA Committee had so many more names of people more deserving of this great honor. I still feel that way. There are great reporters who have been overlooked,” he added.

“When the description of the recipient was being announced, all of a sudden I realized they were talking about me. My daughter, Lauren Schechter (a great CART reporter), was sitting next to me and smiling; she said, ‘Dad, go get your award.’”

Only voting members of NCRA or recognized court reporting associations can submit nominations that will be eligible for consideration. In addition, nominations must include information supporting why the nominee should be considered. Finally, DSA candidates cannot be an active member of the DSA Committee or the NCRA Board of Directors.

The purpose of the Distinguished Service Award is to encourage and recognize work amounting to distinguished service by individual members for the benefit of the reporting profession. A recipient of the DSA:

  • Must be a Registered Member of NCRA in good standing or a Registered Retired Member who was a member in good standing upon retirement
  • Cannot be an active member of the DSA Committee or an active officer or director of the Association
  • Must have been involved in NCRA affairs on an extensive level, along with service to state and other reporting associations, public affairs and public relations, writing for association publications, and the advancement of the profession

“Receiving the DSA has meant the depth of accomplishment to me. There is no greater reward than to be recognized by your peers. It came to me at a particularly sensitive period in my career. I had retired a short while ago, and I truly missed the involvement and challenges to overcome. I guess that’s for others to do their own way. I respect that,” Waga said.

“I hope that other professional members would think of worthwhile candidates to receive this great award in the future and send in their nomination. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say, ‘I love the profession of court reporting as well as this great association representing the interests of all its members.’”

Voting members of NCRA may submit nominations through an online form, by email to dsa@ncra.org, or by mail to NCRA, Attn: DSA, 12030 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20191, by March 15. Click here for more information.

Dear NCRA members,

As part of NCRA 2.0’s commitment to review our programs and projects, the Board has diligently analyzed the current corporate partnership program and determined that it is not a good fit for NCRA at this time. The program was implemented for a year with the hopes that it would fit into our association model, but it does not. To that end, the Board took the following action: “MOVED, seconded, and carried that the Board of Directors approves the phasing out of the NCRA corporate partnership program. All corporate partnerships executed in 2018/2019 shall terminate at the end of their one-year term.”

Thank you for your membership and continued support of your NCRA!

Sincerely yours,  

Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC
NCRA President
On Behalf of the NCRA Board of Directors

Put your business in the spotlight with the 2019-2020 NCRA Sourcebook

The May 1 deadline is approaching fast for submitting business directory listings or display advertisements for inclusion in the printed 2019-2020 NCRA Sourcebook. The NCRA Sourcebook is the premier directory of court reporting, captioning, legal videography, and other related service sources, making it the perfect resource to easily connect with the right provider for the job. It’s distributed at legal industry events and at conferences held for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and is mailed to NCRA members and advertisers at the end of the summer.

Members are listed in this printed directory for free and can add their listing in additional cities for only $99 each. To really spotlight your business, however, exclusive to NCRA members is the opportunity to advertise in the business directory section of the Sourcebook.

“When we need to find a reporting firm in a city outside of California where we don’t have a contact to rely on, we go to the NCRA Sourcebook to find a firm,” said NCRA member Antonia Pulone, owner of Pulone Reporting Services in San Jose, Calif. “We advertise there because we assume other firms do likewise, and so they will find our firm for referrals in Northern California.”

There are two options to choose from when considering promoting your company in the business directory. Advertisers who opt for a premium listing in the Sourcebook will be listed alphabetically by state and city. In addition, premium business ads also include the company’s name, address, email address, website, and a description about the services they offer. Premium listings are available in black ink only for a cost of $250. For an additional cost, firms can also be listed under additional cities and states.

NCRA members also have the opportunity to upgrade their business listing to a box listing.The box listing includes everything in a premium listing but with the addition of a logo or photo, the option to list under multiple cities, and the option to use an original designed or JCR court reporting listing advertisement. In addition, box listings are available in full color ink. This option is only $395.

Other options include display advertising ranging from one-sixth of a page to an advertorial and a full-page display advertisement. Additionally, there is advertising space offered on the inside front, inside back, and back cover of the Sourcebook.

For more information about placing your ad and showcasing your business, download the NCRA 2019 Media Kit or email Mary Petto at mpetto@ncra.org.

NCRA members gear up for 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

Cindy L. Isaacsen, RPR

Nationwide, NCRA members are beginning to share what they plan to do to celebrate 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week Feb. 9-16. From securing official proclamations to hosting Veterans History Project events to participating in career fairs, the activity that will mark the seventh year of this national, week-long event is expected to top that of previous years.

“Court Reporting & Captioning Week is one of my favorite celebrations of our profession. It provides a wonderful opportunity for us to unite across the nation and let us showcase together not only the importance of what we do but also the aspects that make careers in court reporting and captioning so rewarding. Our stories are compelling and need to be shared with the public,” said Cindy L. Isaacsen, RPR, an official court reporter from Shawnee, Kan., and an NCRA Director.

“Whether in the courtroom, the deposition room, the boardroom, the broadcast arena, or in providing access to important information to the deaf and hard of hearing community, the services we provide are vital to those who we serve,” added Isaacsen, who tied for first place in the 2018 National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) Challenge that recognizes members’ commitments to celebrating.

The NCSA State Challenge is a friendly contest among state associations and individual NCRA members to spread the word about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. The 2019 NCSA State Challenge marks the fifth year the gauntlet has been thrown down. Winners will receive a variety of prizes ranging from complimentary NCRA event registrations to vouchers for continuing education.

This year, NCRA has issued its own challenge as well that calls on all state affiliates to help celebrate this year’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week by securing an official proclamation recognizing the week by their state governor or a state lawmaker. States that submit a copy of their official state proclamation to pr@ncra.org will be entered into a drawing to win one free 2019 Convention & Expo registration.

A downloadable sample proclamation is available on NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning resource page.

Below is a sneak peak of how some state associations are planning to celebrate the week:

The Illinois Court Reporters Association has already submitted its request to the state’s governor for an official proclamation recognizing 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. For more information, visit ilcra.org.

The Iowa Court Reporters Association also has its proclamation set up with the governor in that state and expects to have an official presentation the week before the 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. For more information, visit icra.org.

Members of the Mississippi Court Reporters Association plan to head to the state capitol on Feb. 12 to meet with lawmakers and showcase their skills as well as discuss some of the challenges the court reporting and captioning professions face. For more information, visit mscra.com.

The New York State Court Reporters Association (NYSCRA) is hosting Bagels, Lox & Camaraderie, its first ever all kosher event to celebrate the week. NYSCRA President Nancy Silberger, an official court reporter from Lynbrook, N.Y., said the event is important for the association and for its Sabbath observer members who are usually unable to attend such events. The event is being held at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. Those interested in attending can learn more or RSVP at nyscra.org.

In Rochester, N.Y., NCRA members will host a happy hour with the legal community on Feb. 13, from 5 – 7 p.m. at TRATA. The networking event brings together official and freelance reporters, students, judges, lawyers and the law enforcement community to celebrate the court reporting and captioning professions. For more information, contact NCRA Director Meredith Bonn, RPR, at mereditha.bonn@gmail.com.

The Texas Court Reporters Association will hold its Court Reporter at the Capitol Day on Feb. 12. During the week, members will also be sporting “Ask Me About Court Reporting” T-shirts and posting on social media. For more information, visit tcra.com.

For additional resources, visit NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week resources page at NCRA.org/home/events. No matter how you celebrate 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, be sure to share your stories and photos with NCRA’s Communications Team at pr@ncra.org.